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10 Horror Films You Should Watch for Halloween

10 Horror Films You Should Watch for Halloween

That’s right, folks, it’s that time of year again.

Leaves are changing colors, people are wearing warmer clothing, and suddenly everyone’s obsessed with monsters, killers, and the undead. Yep, it’s Halloween. And a great way to celebrate this holiday is to binge watch a couple of horror films with your friends. But which ones should you watch?

Horror films are probably the most diversified genre in the whole film business, and there’s a ton to choose from. But with that comes mood swings. “I kind of want to be scared… But not really scared,” or, “I want to have nightmares for the rest of the week!” So that’s why I’m going to be listing off 10 horror movies that you should check out this Halloween, 5 of which are goofy in nature and 5 that’ll scare it right out of ya. Get ready, this is my pick of great horror films.

 

Goofy scary movies

#5: Ghostbusters (1984)
I’m kind of cheating with this one because it’s definitely more of a comedy. But hey! There’s some scary parts in it, like the librarian! However, this is always a great choice because of its subject matter and the big laughs. Most people have probably seen this one a hundred times, but it never hurts to watch again and recite every single line of dialogue. “We got one!”

Killer Klowns poster; image from here

#4: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Got coulrophobia? Well, this will probably cure it. Although the clown designs are fairly creepy in nature, this romp of a movie is just a lot of fun with the idea of alien clowns attacking people and turning them into cotton candy. There’s no way you can take that seriously, folks. The imagination of the mise-en-scéne and goofy archetypes this movie has will keep you plenty entertained.

#3: Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This movie has been getting a lot of attention with some claiming it to be the most creative horror film of all time. Although I don’t necessarily agree, there is a lot to like here, with plenty of scares AND laughs. This movie is basically an ode to the horror genre and the lunacy it can bring. Watch this one if you want to see all of your favorite clichés lampooned in a tasteful way. Unlike some movies… (I’m looking at you, Scary Movie franchise)

#2: Zombieland (2009)
Okay, I’m cheating with this one too, as it’s practically an action comedy before a horror film.  But gosh darn it, this one is just too good not to mention on this list.  Like Cabin in the Woods, this film likes to lampoon the whole horror genre (zombie films specifically) by giving a set of rules that everyone must live by to survive.  Wow, that sounds a lot like Scream when I put it that way, but I promise they’re different!  For example, this one is actually good.  However, the lampooning is not what makes this movie so great.  The memorable characters, story, and gags are a pleasure to watch no matter how many times you’ve seen it.  If you haven’t seen this one yet, stop what you’re doing and check it out!

#1: The Evil Dead trilogy: Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness (1981-1992)
Okay, now I’m REALLY cheating by using three films for my number one pick.  But seriously, there’s no way to separate them and call it a respectable list.  These films are the supreme example of goofy horror, with its over-the-top set pieces, characters, and mood.  There’s just no rules in the movies (like there’s literally zero continuity between the films) and it’s the most entertained you’ll ever be while watching a horror movie.  Watch this one with a group of friends, and you’ll eventually know what I’m talking about.  By the end of the third film you’ll just say these films are… Groovy.

 

Terrifying horror films

The Shining poster; image from here

#5: The Shining (1980)
One of Kubrick’s finest films, The Shining really dives deep into the psychological profile of a psychotic man.  This movie showcases this with its isolated setting and its peculiar atmosphere.  The film takes a long time to get anywhere, but that only adds to the loneliness and boredom the characters are going through.  Once the tension builds and we finally reach the climax, everything just goes crazy with twisted imagery and bone-chilling acting from Jack Nicholson.  Although this is probably one of the better-made films on the terrifying list, it’s dead last because it can be exceptionally hokey sometimes.  For example there’s an unnecessary jump scare with the title card that simply says “Tuesday,” and moments like that make me scratch my head wondering why the filmmakers would do that.  Regardless, this is a must see.

#4: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
You know all those zombie movies that you see nowadays that don’t seem to stop?  Yeah, well this is the first one.  Let me clarify, zombies have been around since the beginning of storytelling, but this generation of zombies where there’s a mass infection spreading through slow-moving undead people who then turn you into a zombie by biting you all started with this film.  I put it pretty low and the scare list because it does seem kind of outdated by today’s standards, but at the time this film was made it was pretty gutsy.  Having a black man as the lead was practically unheard of in the ’60s, the amount of violence was never seen by this time, and the ending (I will NOT dare spoil the ending for you here), just know that it’s unexpected and shocking.  This may not be the scariest, but it is unnerving and a definite must see for any zombie fan.

#3: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Now, if you’re looking for a movie that’s filled with jump scares throughout the duration then skip this one because The Blair Witch Project is scary on a very different level.  No, this one gets under your skin and will remain dormant there for a long time.  This movie is highly innovative in many aspects.  For starters, this is one of the first found footage movies to be released, and now some franchises just won’t let it go (cough, Paranormal Activity, cough.)  Also, this is one of the first times that a movie was advertised via viral marketing.  It created a website which claimed the authenticity of the film and gave a lot more background information.  Because of the website’s existence, many people to this day believe the film to be real, which, if you were to believe that, only makes it scarier.  Aside from the innovation, it is a great film, and one that your’s truly pops in every year just so I can lose some sleep.

#2: Halloween (1978)
Golly, another innovative film.  This time for the slasher genre, but this is no ordinary slasher.  It was one of the first to have an incredibly low budget, use a suburban setting, and have a memorable theme song.  The suburban setting made the killer more threatening, seeing that he could be anywhere, especially in your own home.  Also, the score is astounding.  It somehow found a way to make it memorable while intimidating.  It makes me want to look over my shoulder each time I hear it.  Not much else to say except that this is a stellar thriller, proving that you don’t need a large budget to make a great film.

The Exorcist poster; image from here

#1: The Exorcist (1973)
Practically everyone knows about this film and has his or her own opinion, so there’s not much I can add.  Just know that it is truly worth your time, and lives up to its reputation of scariest film of all time.  It’s slow paced, making sure that all tension is building up.  When things start to happen, it really becomes intense and showcases some of the best special effects of all time.  If you get the DVD for this film, make sure you check out the special features, because the creative ways they went about creating these images are truly something to appreciate.  Scariest film of all time?  Sure is.

So, there’s my list.  Hope you enjoyed it, but I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.  There are innumerable horror films out there and surely I left your favorite out of the mix.  Go ahead and comment with some of your favorite horror movies so we can add the film suggestions.  Thanks for reading, and have a great Halloween.

About Kirk Peterson

Kirk Peterson is a film, theatre, performance studies and English major from Urbandale, Iowa. His main focus is film, but he has occasional love affairs with other forms of visual storytelling like graphic novels, video games, and theatre. Some of Kirk's favorite filmmakers are some of the more obvious picks like Nolan, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Gilliam, and Spielberg as well as some lesser popular artists like Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater. With all this, he has a hard time finding a film that he doesn't enjoy in at least one way or another. Kirk also enjoys being with his friends on Closson and especially loves to engage in off the wall conversations. Oh, and Batman.

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